If you’ve ever lived or worked in a city in the Northeastern United States, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen the phenomenon: an old lawn chair, traffic cones laid out, or even just a sign taped up on a nearby light pole. They’re all attempting to perform the same function, which is saving the previously snowed-in parking spot on a public streets.
According to the Baltimore news station WBAL, Snowstorm Jonas left many disgruntled street parkers in a predicament when they finally dug out their vehicles and left for work in the days following. The whole concept is technically illegal, but that didn’t stop people like one anonymous nurse in the neighborhood of Hampden from trying.
In a picture that quickly went viral on social media, the self-described friendly neighborhood nurse left this request on a hand-written note:
“Neighbors – I shoveled @ 3am and 5am just so I could get to the hospital @ 7am. Please be kind and leave this spot open for me when I get home. Thank You!”
This sort of ‘savesies’ tradition, despite being illegal, is nothing new to cities used to getting snowfall, but the advent of the internet and social media has added another element to the equation. As the picture of the note in question gained steam on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, people began sounding off on both sides of the argument.
Some on the side of agreement chose to share pictures of their more harshly worded notes, while folks on the other derided these people for their “entitled” way of thinking a public spot can belong to anyone. In other words: move your car’s feet, lose its seat.
One person fed up with the whole tradition even posted a satirical Craigslist post offering up things like chairs, which 39% of households buying outdoor furniture planned choose anyway, according to one survey. Even though 80% of households own a grill, there have been no reports yet of savers resorting to moving these into the streets.
“All the free patio chairs and beach chairs you want,” read the since-removed offer. “I will be dispersing chairs of various types in parking spots around the city before and during the snow storm. Feel free to just go ahead and take them.”
Some use more tactics than simply asking nicely when it comes to trying got save a spot. According to The Washington Times, Nathan Bergman of the D.C. area promised to repay anyone who took his shoveled out spot by using, “the same amount of time, energy and money to place the snow back in it’s [sic] original place around your vehicle. This is a promise.”
As law enforcement officials are quick to point out, this adult version of calling dibs is illegal. Instead, they say, homeowners should view finding parking spots on public roadways as a responsibility, not as something they can own.